An electronic database that includes all the laws, decisions, and legal rulings since the establishment of the Iraqi state in 1921 has been completed, the Iraqi Supreme Judiciary Council announced last week.
Work on the programme started two years ago with support from United Nations Development Fund's Programme on Governance in the Arab Region (POGAR), and the Arab Centre for the Rule of Law and Integrity.
"The basic objective of this project is to make precise legal data available to academic researchers and legal specialists in an easy-to-use manner through which they can retrieve any text from the archives easily by searching for it through the computerised program," said Judge Abdul Sattar al-Bairaqdar, spokesman for the council.
Al-Bairaqdar told Mawtani that the efforts made by Iraqi and international experts focused on creating an all-encompassing electronic archive in which legal texts, laws, resolutions, regulations and judicial sentences can be entered and stored.
The database includes more than 27,000 legal texts so far.
"The programme will be subject to continuous upgrades to ensure the principle of comprehensiveness in providing the data, and making recently approved texts available for those who are interested in legal matters," al-Bairaqdar said.
The judiciary council intends to make the information available on its website, in addition to having it printed on CDs and given away free of charge to state institutions.
The programme was designed to be compatible with computer programs that operate with the Microsoft system, such as Microsoft Excess, Word, Excel, and FrontPage. The data is only available in Arabic.
Attorney Tariq Harb, chairman of the Legal Culture Association, a civil society organisation, described the completion of the database as "an important and necessary step".
"People working in the field of law and legal defence used to often face considerable difficulty in finding a legal ruling or a particular legal text on a case or complaint because it used to require a lot of manual searching through numerous official legal and legislative resources," Harb told Mawtani.
"Providing all these texts and legislation through a single electronic window will make it easy to go back to any text or legal bill without the difficulty of the traditional method, which obstructed our work as lawyers," he said.
Ameer al-Kinani, deputy chairman of the Iraqi parliament's legal committee, said the electronic database programme will serve the legislative process in the country because it will help Iraqi lawmakers pass legislation, laws, and resolutions based on the legal originals and their precedents.
"We shall also be able to streamline old legislation and texts by omitting or amending legal articles in them to make them more in tune with the requirements and necessities of the present," al-Kinani told Mawtani.
"With the completion of the electronic gateway, Iraq shall have achieved a qualitative leap in its efforts to improve the work and performance of its institutions, whether at the legislative, the structural, or the administrative level."